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Singaporean bridge is a re-invention of sorts of the traditional game of contract bridge. This version of bridge derives its name from where it is believed to have been invented, Singapore, and just like its traditional predecessor, there are variations in the rules. It is also known as floating bridge.
Essentially, a deck of 52 cards is used, and 4 hands of 13 are dealt. Players assume fixed seats, but unlike contract bridge, the partners are not determined at the outset by virtue of north-south or east-west — they are determined at the end of the bidding. There are no pre-determined number of games to be played and no need to duplicate the hands for subsequent players, if any.
Instead, the player on the dealer's left begins the bidding (some players prefer to have the dealer begin bidding; it makes little difference). The bidding system works the same, in terms of number of tricks needed and the order of suits, for example.
For some groups of players, bidding will only commence if every player has a sufficiently "playable" hand to make the game meaningful. Hands are determined to be playable through a point system. Aces of any suits in a hand are assigned 4 points each, Kings 3 points, Queens 2 points and Jacks 1 point. Further, every card after the 4th in each suit is also worth an additional 1 point.
For example, the following hand is worth 13 points: 4C, 5C, 9C, KC (3 points), AD (4 points), 4H, 2S, 3S, 4S, 6S, 8S, JS (1 point), QS (2 points) and 3 additional points for having 7 cards in Spades.
For bidding to begin, each player must have at least 4 points (by meeting the criteria of the above point system) in order to have a playable hand. If someone does not have a "playable" hand, the cards will be reshuffled for a new round. The reshuffling is known as a 'wash'.
The winner of the bid will then 'pick' a partner by calling out the holder of a card of their choice.
By way of strategy, if the winner has a strong clubs hand but lacks the ace of clubs, they may want to consider calling the holder of the ace of clubs to be their partner. Or, if their club suit was very long but lacked the ace, it may be better to call the holder of say the ace of hearts to cover their singleton in the hearts suit so that they can later ruff. The possibilities are endless, and it all depends on keeping track of the bidding and guessing who may have the aces, or the long suits, whichever strategy that is applicable.
This is where it turns tricky. The partner can choose to "reveal" themselves at right about any point in the game, or when they are forced to play the card. Until then, the winner of the bid either remains in the dark as to who their partner is, or would have to be very sharp in guessing by observing the gameplay. Chances are, partners usually like to reveal themselves early so as not to have tricks trumped by the winner. Or if a partner is really astute, they can pretend not to be the partner and mislead the opponents. The partner, however, is obliged to reveal themselves by verbal declaration should their opponent be one trick away from winning.
Most of the time, the chosen card is one that the winner does not have, however, it is legal for the winner of the bid to call a card they own should they be exceedingly confident with their own hand and opts not to share their victory with a partner. Such a move may be strategically advantageous as it is likely their three opponents will fight among themselves for a while until the farce is revealed.
Much of this is contrasted with contract bridge where there is a dummy and his entire hand is revealed from the start.
The player on the left of the winner of the bid ('declarer' is hardly used; in fact many refer to 'tricks' as 'sets') will begin the game. The only exception - and this is not a universal rule - is in no-trump games, the winner of the bid will begin the game. The other less-agreed-upon rule is the drawing of trumps. Some people play by the rule that the drawing of trumps can only begin when the player drawing trumps already has a void suit or when trump has been broken (i.e. a trump card has already been played), some play by the rule that drawing can be done at any point in the game, while most play by the rule that trumps can only be drawn when the trump suit has been broken. At the end of the game, players remain in the same seats but due to the nature of partner determination, everyone could begin with new partners in the next round.
Ethics and scoring
Singaporean bridge is by and large a social game with less formal (albeit interesting) rules. Players simply voice their bids, and talking during games is allowed in a general sense.
There is no official point-scoring system since the partners are not fixed; that is to say too that the concept of over-tricks and doubling do not apply at all. The 'winner' is simply determined by which the player and its partner has won the most hands against the other pair of players. However, some players prefer to play in a fixed-partner format, hence whichever fixed pair wins most the hands, that pair is declared the winner. As such either system discourages over-offensive bidding or even pre-emptive bids. It may even be a good idea to simply defend.
On the other hand, there is an uncomplicated scoring system emerging to balance out the under-bidding nature of floating bridge. It is increasingly popular as it encourages players to take risk and go for higher bids. Points are scored according to the contract bid and made. 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 points are scored for contract of 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 tricks respectively. Both partners score the same points when contract are fulfilled. There is no extra point for over-trick, so players should try to bid to their full potential. There is a penalty for under-trick to prevent reckless pre-emptive bidding; the opponent score 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 points ... and so on, depending on number of under-tricks. The points for each game are recorded on a piece of paper with 4 columns for 4 players. In each game only columns for winning players are scored, the other 2 players have 'dash' entered in the respective columns. Obviously, due to the floating nature of partnership, each game will have different combination of players who earn their points. However, the points can still be summed up at the end of a gaming session to determine the overall winner.